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The Best Virtual Staging Software - All you need

The Best Virtual Staging Software practices step by step with video.

virtual staging software

What is Virtual Staging Software?

Virtual staging software is a 3D software capable of rendering and casting realistic light and shadows from 3D objects onto a 2D photo. Its seamless 3D with 2D images blend makes it a valuable tool, especially in real estate marking when depicting furniture and decors.

If you seek to learn how to use virtual staging software and become a professional virtual stager, this is the right place to start. Moreover, I am reviewing the best virtual staging software options in short and information-packed introductory tutorials.

I will guide you through the steps, technical aspects, and formalities of my virtual staging solution and answer the most common questions about virtual staging one might ask.

All this is FREE for everyone to learn, so I would appreciate it if you leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

What you will learn:

WHAT IS THE BEST VIRTUAL STAGING SOFTWARE?

The best staging software is the combination of 3Ds Max with Corona Render or V-ray (my opinion).

The only negative is the skills and time required for a beginner to learn the software and virtual craft magic of digital furniture adaptation.

In recent years we’ve seen a few companies develop “do it your self” virtual staging web-based applications, which can be used with little or no skills. The downside of this is the lack of design intent behind it. It may be perceived as a drag-and-drop application for furniture and decors, which is very far from staging.

 

There are two types of service DIY software and Bespoke service.

  • Complete bespoke service produces very realistic results (3ds max + render engine)
  • DIY software is easy and quick but limited and far from realistic

Be aware!
Some staging companies call themselves – software and use misleading tactics while they are just companies that use the software.

George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)
George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)

I have had the idea of sharing all I learned about virtual staging software a few years ago. Below are some of the questions I will try to answer:

- How to become a virtual stagger?
- Where to start as a beginner with virtual staging software (+ easy to follow tutorials)
- What software to use for virtual staging projects?
- From where to take Virtual Staging Furniture?
- Business and Marketing guidance (salary, trends, opportunities)
- Other

This article is constantly evolving, so write any questions in the comments section at the end of the page.

Hold on for a second!

Before taking it further, I have covered more helpful information on this topic; Go check them out once you finish with the page.

Virtual Staging Business can be an additional income flow, especially If you hold a real estate agent license. I bet you have experienced the extent to which an empty or neglected house can painfully lose its value over time and need further price drops.

This article explains how / what and where of having a virtual staging business as an add-on to your primary business.

Virtual Staging Furniture is the second ingredient of an exemplary virtual staging project. The first one is a professional workflow having the suitable staging models (furniture, decors, plants, fabrics, light fixtures, and others) can be the key and final details;

In this article, I am sharing where you can find all these quality goods for your projects.

Selling a probate property can be more challenging than your usual real estate, where there will be some speed bumps to hit along the way. 
Here you will learn some of the tactics you’ve missed.

What is Virtual Staging?

Virtual staging is the digital form of traditional home staging done in a 3D virtual environment with staging software. All principles from traditional home staging are equally applicable to virtual staging.

 

And now, let’s continue and learn how to become a home stager.

How to become a Virtual Home Stager?

Becoming Virtual Home Stager requires knowledge of:

George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)
George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)

I believe there are multiple ways to become a virtual home stager, but none of them is as informative as the virtual staging software tutorials I made.

Virtual Home Stagers has been a profession in demand since 2019. The time needed to learn how to do basic virtual staging projects is 2 to 7 weeks, depending on the 3D and 2D software experience.

For a person without any prior knowledge of 3D software or design, the easiest and quickest way is SketchUp – V-ray workflow (videos below).

It is fairly easy to acquire basic skills to produce basic staging images of vacant spaces. Achieving average and expert staging work will take up to 1 to 3 years and require various design and marketing disciplines to be learned, alongside additional software.

You can get away with an average PC / Laptop for basic virtual staging jobs in the range of $700 – $1,000; Screen not included.
Follow the workflow I created below and you will see how easy it is to create your first virtual staging image!

Why Virtual Staging Software?

Virtual staging is one of the best and highest-paying remote jobs.

Considering the time needed to learn virtual staging software (3 to 7 weeks), it can be a valuable tool if you have a goal in mind and are ready to pursue it.

Earn money by staging small real estate jobs for agents or marketing companies, demonstrate to prospective owners what their future design will look like, or why not stage entire neighborhood schemes – the options are limitless.

How much do virtual stagers make?

Professional virtual stagers can earn from $100 – $1,000 or +$10,000 for just a dozen of images.

Good organization skills, design, focus and knowledge of the 3D software are vital in achieving the desired earnings. Unfortunately, as with everything, most virtual stagers achieve earnings between $100 to $1,000 on average as they never strive to the expert virtual staging level.

For example, at Step Eleven, I showed how I did a virtual staging photo priced at 400$.

Is Virtual Staging Software free?

There is no complete free option as software for virtual staging, but it can become 100% free if you learn how to do it yourself. This will require you to spend time learning how to work with different types of software applications, acquire & practice design and staging skills to achieve desired results.

The DIY Virtual Staging Software + Tutorials

George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)
George Nicola (Expert Virtual Stager)

The Do It Yourself virtual staging approach may be an option for those who have the free time, will, and passion for adding additional skills to their knowledge base. This is how I started many years ago, doing it myself step by step, at the times when internet tutorials were not a thing at all.

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I’ve been asked how I do virtual staging and what software I use a thousand times by our customers and by other colleagues in the virtual staging industry and fellow home staggers. 

If you want to learn how to do the virtual staging and use the software yourself and for free, continue to read.

I am exposing how I do virtual staging, what it takes to become a virtual stagger, how and from where I get my virtual staging furniture, what software I use, and my entire workflow.

To follow the virtual staging tutorials below requires additional knowledge about the following software

  • Autodesk 3Ds Max (any version above 2014)
  • SketchUp (Pro) and (Free) versions
  • Corona Render engine / V-ray Render Engine / Arnold Render Engine
  • Adobe Photoshop ( or any software with the capability to work and amend .jpg and .png files)

Main Features of the Virtual Staging Software method below

You have waited a long time now for this virtual staging tutorial, right?

Each software comes with its advantages and drawbacks, along with all features offered.

For example with:

3Ds Max – Photo-realistic and highly detailed results can be achieved.

SketchUp is Quick and Flexible, and Free (excl the cost of the rendering software).

Best virtual staging software to choose?

If you are a complete beginner or a “Do it yourself virtual staging” enthusiast, you can start with SketchUp, it’s easy to learn, it has a free version capable of doing all of the necessary work.

Below I have made a fun comparison between SketchUp and 3DsMax for virtual staging.

SketchUp for Virtual Staging

Consider watching both videos to see the difference between each of the software.

3Ds Max for Virtual Staging

Virtual Staging Software for Photographers

If you are a beginner photographer or a huge business, and you are buying virtual staging services that are up-sale to your clients. Or perhaps you want to learn how to work with the software? Luckily, you are in the right place. On this page, you will find the right content, which will help you to offset the costs by learning how to do virtual staging.

Virtual Staging Private Tutoring

To become a professional virtual staging you need to gain more skills and professional knowledge. Want to speed up the process? I offer Private Tutoring sessions. For answers to all related questions, please click on the button below.

How to do Virtual Staging for Free (with video)

Being first on the internet is always a great thing; I decided to lift the curtain and show you how virtual staging is done and what it takes.

You will need to download the software to follow the tutorials below.

Get Photoshop or any post-production software

You will need software capable of editing images
– Photoshop (paid version)
Affinity Photo (Paid Desktop alternative of Photoshop)
– Photopea (free web alternative of Photoshop)
Krita (Free Desktop Photoshop alternative)
Gimp (Free Desktop Photoshop alternative)

Get 3Ds Max; Corona / V-ray; or Arnold render

Link to trial versions of the 3D Software:
– 3Ds Max (Main 3D software)
– Corona render (3rd party plugin for 3Ds Max)
V-ray render (3rd party plugin for 3Ds Max)
– Arnold render (3rd party plugin for 3Ds Max)
– SketchUp (3Ds Max alternative)

Alternative staging software

Adobe Substance 3D stager can capture and catch shadows from 3D objects onto 2D planes (photos), including photo matching settings.
You can do virtual staging with Adobe as a secondary benefit while mainly used for product renderings.

You can’t do virtual staging alone with Adobe Photoshop as it is a photo editing application with minimal rendering capabilities.
Although Substance 3D stager can render virtual staging scenes, it is not significant in performance and flexibility if you have furnished scenes or more complex spaces.

Lumion 11 can do photo-matching for virtual staging and capture and cast shadows over a 2D photo plane. It is a real-time rendering software used mainly by architecture companies. It has an excellent rendering performance, but it might not be the best application to use for virtual staging scenes for some specific situations. 

Enscape can render virtual staging scenes because of its integration with SketchUp as the leading software. Unfortunately, as of this moment in writing this answer, Enscape does not have a proper texture projection utilized by the prospective match, but you will be able to render a virtual staging scene with a clever workaround. 
It might not be the best option to use in complicated scenes.

Blender is capable of rendering virtual staging scenes. It has shadow catcher materials that capture and cast 3D shadows over 2D photo planes, including photo matching. Given that it’s an entirely free application, it might be a good option for beginners. The downside is the lack of furniture and decors available to download and use in virtual scenes.

Good and bad home staging software?

There is no such thing as good and bad home staging software. Good or bad virtual stagings depend to some degree on the software’s capabilities, but mainly it’s all about the person’s experience and knowledge on that matter.

Tip: Good photography is the foundation for good virtual staging, and lousy photography can seriously affect the end.

If I have to use an analogy, let’s pretend that the home staging software is the vehicle, and the staging images are the fuel. The stager is the driver, and it’s up to them to use the right fuel to drive the vehicle to the end destination.  

Virtual Staging Tutorial

The staging tutorials below are the first step to becoming a professional virtual stager. If you strive to become an expert, you have to start from the bottom and work your way up.

There is no shortcut to this; every professional virtual stager does hundreds of staging projects before mastering the skills and making it up to the next level.

This is your step Zero

Where to find photos to Virtual Staging?

Building a portfolio: One of the first things you must do is find photos that you can stage. Preferably they should be of empty spaces or rooms. Use them to train your skills, test different staging workflows and build up a portfolio.

The best option is to reach out to a realtor and ask them if you can use some of their photos. Always make sure to inform and ask for permission from the person holding the copyright.

If Option 1 is not something you can deal with, you can find any photo of an empty room from the internet and use the google images search option to find more similar photos that you can stage. Then, contact the owner of the photos and ask for permission again. It is unlawful to use other people’s pictures and information without their knowledge and consent.

This is your step One

 Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 1 ( How to become a PRO! )

Learn Design Principles: If you want to become a virtual stagger, you will need to learn many design principles, and you can do that by making small steps towards the end goal – becoming a virtual stagger. 

Watch the Virtual Staging tutorial below to get the best idea of what this virtual staging tutorial is really about.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER

This is your step Two

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 2 ( 6 Rules to Stage a room )

If you are new to virtual staging, this is the right video to start learning. (tutorial not suitable for a complete beginners with the software mentioned below)

What’s in the video:

In this video tutorial, I am presenting you how to stage virtually the right way by using 6 rules which I have developed to help me virtually stage by using a real design approach, more than 900 properties per year. The whole process reduced my turnaround time and improved design.

You might be thinking that doing virtual staging in 2020 is easy, as there are so many websites with assets where you can just drag and drop. In reality, overall, the conversion rate of the “cataloged” virtually staged real estate is poor. If you are new to 3ds max and Corona renderer, you might not be able to follow the exact steps which I show in the video, but you can learn the structure of every virtual staging image.

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER

This is your step Three

Diy Virtual Staging vs Virtual Staging in professional software

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 3 ( DIY Virtual Staging vs Professional Virtual Staging software )

What’s in the video:

In this side-by-side comparison video, I’m comparing DIY virtual staging software vs. Professional virtual staging software. 
The DIY software has its advantages as easy to learn in 90-120 minutes and web-based, while the massive disadvantage is the flexibility and realism. On the other hand, the professional virtual staging software will require more time to learn and costs more at the beginning. Still, the results you will be able to deliver are highly realistic in addition to the great flexibility and vast range of 3D objects available for staging.

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER + WEB-BASED APP

This is your step Four

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 4 ( Perspective Match for Virtual Staging )

What’s in the video:

Everything in Virtual Staging starts with Perspective Match. This is the time where real estate photography gets implemented in the virtual staging software. In this video, you will learn how to get a real estate photo, import it to the virtual staging software (3Ds Max in this case) and match its perspective. Once this is done, you are one step closer to adding your first 3D object.

During the video, I have made some intentional mistakes, so you can learn how to avoid them just by watching

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER

This is your step Five

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 5 ( Get free 3D staging furniture )

What’s in the video:

Virtual staging with 3ds max can be challenging if you don’t have the right 3D models.

SketchUp and its enormous library (3D Warehouse) of millions of 3D models is the starting point for any beginner virtual stagger to find FREE assets requiring a little or no modeling in 3ds max for their virtual staging projects. In this tutorial, I am showing you how I prepare (with minimum effort) a SketchUp model with 3ds Max 2018 for virtual staging.

In this video you will see how almost every beginner can:

– find free 3d models for 3ds max
– export and import from SketchUp to 3ds max
– work with materials
– textures
– set essential lighting with HDRI;
– corona sun
– make the model ready for use with virtual staging

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; SketchUp; CORONA RENDERER

This is your step Six

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 6 ( 360 Virtual Staging tutorial ) Part 1

What’s in the video:

This 360 Virtual Staging tutorial (Part 1) is probably the first tutorial on the whole internet showing how exactly you can insert wrap around the panoramic image inside the virtual staging software (3ds max in this case) add 3d objects like furniture and decors; create realistic lighting and render everything as a 360 virtual tour

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments.

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER

This is your step Seven

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 7 ( 360 Virtual Staging tutorial ) Part 2

What’s in the video:

In Part 1, I showed you how to import the backdrop panorama and build the room geometry with some basic lighting. In this Secondary Part of the Virtual Staging 360, I’m adding furniture, more refined lighting, and some other tricks to improve the room’s overall feeling. Below is the link to the project “as is” without the fine-tuning details. In Part 3 (coming soon), we’ll take a closer look at some of these details, refine them, and add even more realistic features to the staging.

Results from the 360 Virtual Staging tutorial

 

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments. 

Virtual Staging Software: 3DS MAX; CORONA RENDERER

 

This is your step Eight

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 8 ( Almost Free Virtual Staging Software)

What’s in the video:

Learn how to do Virtual Staging almost for free with SketchUp and V-ray. Master the technique of Perspective Match (Photo matching); Add lights and How to create Wrapper material in SketchUp. Simple steps, easy to digest – great results.

For any further questions, let us know on the YouTube channel – the comments. 

Virtual Staging Software: Sketch Up; V-ray for SketchUp

This is your step Nine

Interior Design Virtual Staging | THE 3 IMPORTANT RULES

stlye-virtual-staging-

(left) photo before virtual staging ; (right) mood board for virtual staging

 

You can download the photo, give it a try and let me know in the comments about your results: http://bit.ly/interiorstaging

 

What’s in the video:

Do you know that you can use the Interior Design workflow along with the virtual staging method? You will see how a mood board and a floorplan are used for the direction of the staging.

Brace yourself to learn techniques about virtual staging nobody talks about!

Make sure to watch the whole video and master your virtual staging skills by using the virtual staging technique we teach. It took nine revisions and a little more than 5 hours until the ultimate result has been achieved.

Virtual Staging Software: 3ds Max; Corona Renderer; Photoshop & 3rd party plugins

This is your step Ten

Virtual Staging Training Tutorial - Step 10 ( Virtual Staging Models)

What’s in the video:

One of the good websites for free virtual staging models, where you can download and be sure of the quality. Well organized with categories of furniture models, decors, and even textures this will definitely speed up your project time.

Registration is required and you’ll be limited to downloading 20 models per day which is still good enough.

Virtual Staging Software: 3ds Max; Corona Renderer; Photoshop & 3rd party plugins

This is your step Eleven

Virtual Staging Photo for 400$ - Step 11

What’s in the video:

Another very anticipated tutorial is the topic of pricing the virtual staging photos. In the breakdown tutorial below, in 6 hours, I did a complete transformation which was highly-priced at 400$. 

Intermediate-level knowledge is needed for one to do that type of highly-priced staging photo. But, of course, knowledge is not the only ingredient of imaging; finding the right client is another significant step, too. Which I’ve planned to talk about in some of the next videos.

Virtual Staging Software: 3ds Max; Corona Renderer; Photoshop & 3rd party plugins

This is your step Twelve

Photoshop Tutorial - Remove objects from photo with Texture Ripper - Step 12

What’s in the video:

If you have to remove objects from photos in photoshop, this is an excellent free tool to help you with that. Extract any planar texture and re-use it or clone – stamp it in Photoshop. Watch how I pull a desk using the Texture Ripper and replicate complex wallpaper patterns.

Beginner-level knowledge.

Virtual Staging Software: Photoshop & 3rd party plugins

Virtual Staging Software reviews

What’s next?

By this point, you should have done your first virtual staging image using a selected virtual staging software.

However, if you are unsure what to do next or perhaps seek an opinion, post your question in the comments below or join our Facebook group and post your question there.

Then, I will comment on your virtual staging software questions or project just like I did in these videos below:

The rest of the videos can be watched on the virtual staging youtube channel by clicking on the image:

 

virtual staging youtube channel

Questions on Virtual Staging Software / Tutorials

Yes, I have decided to make as much as I can cover tutorials on this youtube channel

This is how I operate, my goal is to improve the quality of the virtual staging sector and teach others how to do this wonderful craft.

Design education can be a huge advantage, but it is not detrimental to your success. You can always catch up with design rules, trends, color combinations, layout, and spacing after learning how to do virtual staging.

Most people produce their first photos with the software in 3 to 5 weeks.

Traditional staging often costs as minimum as $100 for a 30 min—consultation and on average $1,250 per room per month for rental service. For a quality Virtual Staging service, the average price per room is $120, which makes it ten times cheaper per room.

Most Realtors tend to be busy, and DIY virtual staging can be challenging and time-consuming, especially if you aim to deliver a quality product.

Every company determines its prices based on its target market, expertise, and strategy. For example, 90% of staging companies offer virtual staging at $10 to $32, with quality averaging from poor to medium but quick turn-around times.

On average, most beginners learn how to create their first virtual staging image from 3 to 5 weeks. Then, in 6 to 12 weeks, they already know how to make virtual renovations, and in 20 weeks, they know how to with 360 virtual stagings.

There are plenty of websites where you can buy and download virtual staging furniture models. Drop me an e-mail: george@tallbox.co.uk to send you a list.

The free Virtual Staging Software is the combo of Blender and Cycles. For those of who aim at better results another affordable combination is SketchUp and V-ray.

The Virtual Staging Course is half-way there and it’s entirely separate environment.

Yes, you can contact me here: george@tallbox.co.uk

Follow the steps in the videos, and you will learn how to do virtual staging. It’s easy to start with SketchUp for virtual staging. I offer have private tutoring option, drop me an e-mail: george@tallbox.co.uk

There is a Free (Blender) option and Paid – 3Ds Max, Corona render, V-ray Render, and Photoshop options.

There is entire youtube channel dedicated on virtual staging.

Virtual staging can look fake if it’s not produced in the right way, e.g., with wrong 3d models, bad lighting, out of scale, misaligned perspective, and desaturated colors. Good design can make a virtually staged image look less fake, but that is not enough.

Earn money by staging small real estate jobs for agents or marketing companies, demonstrate to prospective buyers and owners what their future design will look like, or why not stage entire construction schemes – the options are limitless.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I Personally see George as the virtual staging pioneer, and not for the fact that he can teach about 3ds max and other components related, but for the sense of exploration and go further the line mark by the market, looking for optimals results, push others to improve and dream.

  2. George is truly one of a kind! Knowledgeable on anything virtual staging and beyond, attentive to all the fine details, precise in his work and having intrinsic good taste. All this in a guy who’s fun, easy going and always ready to help out. Nice people are rare to come by and George is one of those. Thanks George!

  3. I did not know anything about virtual staging software until one day, and I found George’s tutorials for virtual staging. Four months later, I can say – big thank you! I learned how to do virtual staging and helped a few local photographers with stagings. Thank you, George and TALLBOX.

    1. Glad to know, Nicolette! The main reason (in addition to numerous others) I decided to publish tutorials for virtual staging software is because many websites mislead people by calling different companies -> a software for virtual staging. It is not true – they are companies that use the software.

  4. Hi TALLBOX and George. My background in Security is a far cry from virtual staging, but it did not stop me from learning the craft of virtual staging with your help.
    Today I did my first paid virtual staging project, and I used SketchUp as software to make my scenes. I enjoy the process as it’s pretty straightforward when you know the steps. I can’t tell I am fully fetched PRO but following George’s guidance will get me there, I am sure.

    Thank you for teaching us virtual staging.

  5. Very helpful review. I am following the articles from Tallbox for the last 3 years and there are many useful tips and tricks to learn about. Virtual staging software is the game. I have been in the CGI industry for a number of years and found George’s tutorials by coincidence. It’s safe to say that he’s an authority on teaching different virtual staging software and techniques. Thanks, It helps a lot.

  6. Hi George, I have been looking for something where I could use my creative talent. I am great at interior design but am not an interior designer. I have been told my whole life that it is my calling and it is what I should be doing. I just turned 59. I work a desk job that is analytical and customer service, but not creative. I really love this. Since I am not already a designer or photographer should I learn photoshop before I try to learn virtual staging? I want to learn to be excellent at it!!!!

    1. Hi Linda, thanks for your comment and question.
      Yes, the first thing you need to do is learn photo editing, as this is a big part of the virtual staging process.

  7. Thank you, George, for your advice. I will start that right away. I used to work in Corel Draw and Pagemaker many years ago doing desktop publishing. I am super excited to work with something I love. I am so glad I found your site!

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